Catholic vs. Other - 2018-12-28 - Gretta Vosper

Author Recorded Friday December 28th, 2018

There are 41 episodes in the Versus:Other series.

Recorded September 21st, 2017

Catholic vs. Other - 2017-09-21 - Tino

Recorded September 10th, 2017

Catholic vs. Other - 2017-09-10 - Judah

Recorded September 2nd, 2017

Catholic vs. Other - 2017-09-02 - William

Recorded October 21st, 2016

Catholic vs. Other - 2016-10-21 - Ben

Gretta Vosper is a best-selling author and an atheist minister at West Hill United Church. She envisions an all-inclusive religion where people of different worldviews can build right relationships with themselves, the environment and other humans. I enjoyed our chat.

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Under Construction

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hi my name is Greta Vosper and you're listening to Catholic versus other tell the listeners a little bit about yourself if you would please who you are what you believe and how you came to believe what you believe I am a minister in the United Church of Canada I have been in ministry for 25 years and for the last 21 years in a congregation in the East End of Toronto West Hill United Church that congregation prior to my arrival there had spent I think it was about 15 years studying progressive theology and an annual book study so when I arrived there interests and my penchant for moving beyond the traditional language of Christianity allowed us to begin the work of learning typical liberal Protestant congregation into what we identify as a non exclusive congregation in that we use language which does not exclude anyone based on their beliefs whether they are believers whether they're from Christian background Hindu background whether they are non-believers and so I leave that congregation and we continue to do that work which i think is pretty cool what are the earliest memories you have of some sort of religious content in your little world as a very very young child can you talk about some of the earliest memories you have with religion yes of course I grew up in a Protestant church Sydenham Street United in Kingston Ontario I went to Princess Street United oh did you oh I was that / - that's I think Marie no that's nice name first guy there who I knew Marie Wiseman three wisemen that's right and so I participated some youth group stuff when he was there anyway yeah so I grew up across the street from Sydenham Street United Church and because my parents were so involved that was a focal point for our lives my parents especially my mom close relationship with the minister's partner the minister then was jock Davidson and the minister with whom that youth and children engaged was Donald through so it was really sort of the main focus of what my family did when they work together we loved the space we loved the proximity we loved the people I remember my kindergarten Sunday school teacher mrs. Dewar who you know even well into my 20s would recognize me on the street so it was a very kind of I think typical church experience for a young person whose family was embedded in that Millia the difference however was that Sydenham Street used what was known as the new curriculum that curriculum began to be developed in the early 1950s and its first year of use was 1964 which would have been right about when I hit kindergarten in the sunday school so I was exposed to the new curriculum exclusively during my time growing up in Sunday school the new curriculum was an opportunity for churches within the United Church of Canada to help bring families into an understanding of contemporary critical scholarship as it relates to the Bible and Jesus and God so looking back at it from this perspective I can see that it was it was a very progressive interpretation of the Bible and that the what was brought to students and adults in that curriculum is the kind of scholarship that's been taking place for the last over a hundred years but which often hasn't been translated from the public to the pew so Donald mater's who was the editor of that program and a professor at Queen's the electrical college took a lot of flack for the work that was presented through that curriculum the as continues to this day there's a lot of sensitivity about debunking some of traditional understandings and beliefs about Christianity by exposing them to critical scholarship so my understanding of God was never of an authoritative figure or being who judged me for doing wrong things and would allow me into heaven if I was good I was never exposed to Jesus as salvific figure Jesus was more companion along the way who could invite me to understand things in a ethical way and the Bible was stories as they are often presented in Sunday school stories that could help me understand ways to live positively so well I now identify as an atheist the roots of that I deeply embedded in my Sunday school experience I was raised like I told her I was raised United Church of Canada and I went to the princess Street United Church under buri Wiseman in Kingston Ontario and I think I got a lot of grace from prayer because I was in the habit of praying before bed is it really true that you never really believed in God as the creator of the universe and that's all good and all-knowing is it really true that you never believed in him I think that language was probably I was probably familiar with that language but I was never given an idea of being that ruled over the world and we prayed before bed every night but I think I was introduced to Jesus as the person to whom I prayed and so that's really what it was like and I can remember I have a very vivid memory of the first time that I prayed in bed instead of kneeling beside my bed and I was devastated I think my older sister had told me that you didn't need to pray on your knees and you should pray in bed and so I did that and I sobbed the entire time because I had lost this practice which had been meaningful and powerful to me hadn't lost the practice I just changed the way I was doing it but that was still a profound moment in my life such that I still remember it and I have vague memories of my childhood but so DZ's as I said at Sunday school Jesus was this companion along the way and the stories about his life were stories that gave us some insight into our own lives how we could and should I in the world in the relationships that we have with other people predominantly at that age I think and yeah so we did pray and and I did have a powerful sense of that being important I got lost one time my parents couldn't find me at night when they finally found me I'd been talking with Jesus as the way I had put it I guess so that was a powerful presence in my life but wasn't connected to dominant father God do you have a good relationship with your parents and you just talked a little bit about that sort of home life and if you think there might be some sort of connection with early childhood psychology and your relationship with God the Father which you seem to talk about like he's some kind of domineering guy I may be totally off-base but can you just sort of talk about your biological parents and if you think there might be some kind of psychological influence on how you relate to God or Jesus that are the Blessed Virgin Mary I'm certain that they influence I mean they were I don't figured in my life of course both my parents are deceased now and as I said earlier both of them were involved in in the church my dad the weirdest thing about my dad was that he didn't go out the door and go to work he was self-employed as an engineer so the most troubling part of that as a child was when friends parents would say so what does your father do and we really had no idea so we couldn't answer that question but that was really the only sort of strange kind of thing he was typically for that time you know the typical died didn't participate much in the parenting you know my mom was a stay-at-home mom took care of four kids you know so it was a pretty standard 1960s childhood I would say except for that weird thing about dad not going off to work everyday and God when I was in Sunday school God was loved right that's what we were taught was loved and and I didn't ever question that I'd to the point that my current understanding of God if I was to have to come up with the definitions is exactly that you know slightly more refined than it was in my Sunday school books and my and my Sunday school learning and that experience I was talking about Princess Street United was a youth group put on Jesus Christ Superstar and I went to that with some friends I think I was in grade 9 so it would have been 13 and we were there in the audience and then we all went downstairs and there was this whole kumbaya circle kind of thing and and it was all very moving and until my mother came crashing through the doors because she thought I was getting involved in a cult and dragged me home which was mortifying as you can imagine but that was a really powerful and very poignant moment actually being with a bunch of people having what most would identify as a spiritual experience after this powerful play had been done and enjoying the pleasure of that experience so that might be part of why I continued to participate in religion as an important aspect of my life I meditate on a daily basis which is probably the closest thing to a spiritual experience that I have regularly I've experienced many different ways of engaging with religion each of which could probably be placed somewhere along a psychological spectrum in terms of what I was wanting at the time and and what I what I used in order to access that and I think religion is used in in many ways too support or process or refine or contradict life experiences even when we say we have no religion there are ways that we still do that but others might point to and say well that's kind of a religious sort of or spiritual kind of response there so in our course at theological ecology integrative theology we did that work of trying to understand who we were in our own story in our own religious story and integrate that with our praxis as clergy or clergy a training of the time so yeah I mean I think that examining those kinds of things is can only be fruitful at the end I mean I think the process of examining can be traumatic yeah it's hard to see ourselves it's easier to see like a spouse or something are you you have a significant other yes can you talk a little bit about that person in that relationship in how you met yeah he's I met him at church when he took the position of music director back in 2001 and we've been married since 2003 and he has a evangelical Baptist background but his religious beliefs started unraveling while he was doing a Bachelor in Social Work and in the course when he was being taught about critical perspectives and weren't that critical theory could also be applied to religion and his understanding was yeah oh of course every other religion but mine but then he turned those tools on his own beliefs and unraveled them all quite unintentionally but that's what happened so he took the position music director at West Hill because we were looking for someone that had a more contemporary feel for theology enough for music I mean a contemporary feel of music and he of course was a from evangelical denomination and was embedded in that kind of music so he's written a lot of music that we use at West Hill because most hymnody is not it's not theologically representative for us now there is contemporary Christian music so Scott writes music in a contemporary Christian model and uses post theistic contemporary language like everyday language to express the kinds of things that we choose to express walk me through one of your typical services if you were just in broad outline what would someone experience from the moment they walk in to West Hill to the moment that they walk out you'll walk into ourselves and it's a 1950s you know mid-century building and you come in the glass front doors you passed by a kiosk that sells stuff that is made by a group of women in the in the congregation and also sells my books and other stuff like that you'd be greeted probably by several people on your way in and provided a nametag through the double wooden doors you'd go into the area which we call the gathering home and it itself is the original church that was built in 1960 dark brown brick walls has a large squared ceiling and you'd come in sit down either in them it's entropy or one of the rocking chairs or one of the other chairs we've sort of have mixed seating 2 screens project the service elements at the front of the hall there is rainbow streamers tied to the foot of 20 or 30 foot Celtic Cross and those streamers go up and fly sort of through the sanctuary so we are in affirming congregation at the front of the sanctuary or two fabric sculptures which sort of define the spiritual journey in art I was a 50th anniversary undertaking of the congregation it's been in place since 2000 there is a grand piano a small grand piano organ Laura marble communion table up at the front the first thing that would happen in service you'd be handed a an announcement sheet which is really just to take away with stuff about what's happening and the next while in the lobby as you passed by there would be tables that have our vision work statement the words the commitment that we say each week information about West Hill because we've just come through the Christmas season there's a flyer that explains what Christmas what we do at Christmas we don't have a Christmas service we have the longest night service on the winter solstice so the service music would be happening lay person welcomes people reflects a little bit on something we call it West Hill moment informally it's not called that anywhere else but people usually refer to their West Hill moment and they they bring something from the week that they think is important or they welcome people in a way that is appropriate to them there are a couple of quotes that are pertinent to the topic being explored that Sunday that you'll see on the screens and then we do celebrations people share celebrations that are going on their lives and then we do a greeting a good full five minutes often ends with a foghorn triggered by the guy on the sound system it's mostly hugging people just running around hugging welcoming people they haven't seen in a long time or welcoming newcomers newcomers are warned that this is a very vivacious time and they can participate as they want to if you're a newcomer you might just sit in your seat and people will come up and shake your hand or you can just fit right into the thick of things it's up to you after that there's an opening song usually a contemporary song or a traditional hymn tune that has new words written to it lots of times people are overwhelmed when we sing traditional tunes with new words and are unable to sing because they're in they feel that they have been gifted with an old old friend that they have lost for a long time because they haven't been able to abide the theology so those traditional kings are this are really important to many people there's announcements and the offering is taken up during the announcements the plates are pretty empty because most of the people in the congregation are in pre-authorized sermons we try to mention that because sometimes people are alarmed as there's no money in these plates how does how does she get paid but and then the announcements about different things they're happening at the church go on we have sharing time Scott introduces it with a time that's called guided grounded guided growing and he stresses that we are grounded in the interconnectedness of all life we are guided by the value of love and we are growing in wisdom as we seek to interpret the ways in which love is to be lived out in the world so that's a core element of gathering is explaining what we're doing here and it's done differently each week but it's that slide that goes up that says grounded guided growing is very familiar to the people of West Hill following that we have a community sharing time I move into the aisle we do a three-part community sharing the first is when people from the where they sit call out the names of places and groups that are in particular meet at this point in time we move then into a more intimate time where people share what's going on in their personal lives or the lives of someone they know and love or they may speak about an issue that is close to their heart for whatever particular reason on that day and then the third part is when people just from where they're seated call out the names of individuals and organizations that are doing very positive work of justice and compassion and right relationship in the world then we repeat the words of commitment that written in 2005 and there's readings there's generally one at least one and probably two readings from sources other than the Bible there may be a Bible reading but it's rare each week I read the lectionary passages for the week and then I choose a theme from that I then go to look for secular readings consistent with that theme if the biblical readings are appropriate and by appropriate the only requirement for readings at Westhill is that they be worthy of the people who have gathered there to hear them so they will be inspirational they will be edifying they will be challenging but they're worthy of the people who are there it's not trite stuff and we do not account any particular source as privileged so we look for the wisdom within a particular reading rather than choosing things because that person is an expert or this book is considered sacred following that I general I write a poem each week called a focused moment which is about the theme and I read that generally to Scots impromptu a compliment I will say another song the choir may do a piece they don't sing every Sunday but they may do something and then I bring my perspective we don't call it a sermon and call them perspectives with the s in brackets and that's a reminder that I'm offering my perspective or the speaker we have guest speakers regularly they're offering their perspective but everyone is responsible for adding their own perspective to it and sharing it elsewhere in their life following the perspective there's a time for reflection just quiet time and Scott sometimes plays for that and then I get up and give them ascending which grounds them again in in what we have been attempting to accomplish in our time together and that is reminding ourselves about the values by which we choose to live and encouraging us to go out into the world and live those values out as completely as we possibly can and the first Sunday of every month we have a visitors and travelers lunch we have people who traveled regularly to be with us some of them 125 kilometers away from us so it's a journey to get there and there are some who come from even further than that and they come on those first Sundays of the month so they get to be seen and known by the congregation they visit they chat they're recognized as members of West Hill people of West Hill even though they're not there every single Sunday he's at a one-hour service a two-hour service what is that typically it's 90 minutes we aim for 12 o'clock sometimes we go a little over something to get a little short but it's it's generally about 90 minutes okay on one end of the spectrum you've got quietism where people sit quietly waiting for the holy spirit to move them individually on the other end you've got churches where everyone's singing and yelling and screaming the whole time I think you're probably somewhere in the middle but maybe leaning a little bit more towards the quiet side is that safe to say yeah I think so I mean I was taught the elegance of liturgy and the emotional response that that creates and so I am attentive to that I am very careful not to be emotionally manipulative which would perhaps be that one end of the spectrum about which you you're speaking but I also feel responsible for guiding and supporting individuals through the process of the liturgy so yeah I would say we're probably closer to the quiet but we're not quiet is it too much to ask for you to recite one of your focus moment poems is that too intimate you'd have to give me a second to find one on my okay this was the one that I did for this year's affirming service and the our guest speaker was bringing to us the work that he had done about the pink so the pink triangle was a badge that was sewn to the prison uniforms by the Nazis of gay men predominantly women weren't really too much of a concern at that point in time but the horrors one of the horrors of the pink triangle that of course I had never really considered was that when the camps were liberated and prisoners were released people with pink triangles didn't get to go home because homosexuality was still a crime so this focus moment is really about identity and recognizes that for gay or lesbian or trans or bi people back then in the 19th late 1930s beginning in 1940's was an isolated reality it continues to be an isolated reality for many many people but in total isolation is often hard to even understand who you are or to name yourself so this is about the pink triangle actually almost being in its horror almost being a gift because it allowed people to see and know one another in a way that that they didn't normally in the world so so I will read it in the way that I read it that Sunday at church I didn't I don't give them that kind of an intro they are if they're prepared for that so they do that interpretation themselves okay desire rose without a language that might speak it into being I'm seeing amidst a world of loves conventions no-heart attested to it acknowledged it no passers-by reflected understanding in their eyes its secret long suppressed in the marrow of youth in the nightly dreams of those who would not speak the words who could not claim in morning's light the passions by which they themselves were claimed their lives their love without a name steady steady steady steady steady this longing for what cannot be named the steady as the beat of their hearts their fevers buried deep beneath the of respectability the daily chores the conversations about this and that the conversations about things that didn't even matter steady steady steady steady how could it not break or burst its bonds be spoken known released unfurled as beauty against this demeaning sacrificial sky how could it not fight its way to freedom to light to beauty to wholeness even should it then be stitched upon one's breast a mark of degradation that brought truth and with it consecration you mark me who I am but with that mark you named me another point that I noted while you were listings or the experience of your services was the way that you swapped out the lyrics to some traditional hymns and songs and popular music that people might be familiar with what came to mind immediately was a French saint in the Catholic tradition from the late 17th century say Louis de Mol for I don't know if you know about him but he did the exact opposite he went into the taverns and the places of disrepute and he heard the popular songs and he took those songs and he gave them Catholic lyrics and he used that to sort of rally the troops and so it seems sort of diametrically opposed to your approach but that's more of a comment than a question but if you have any response you can give it no more a tactical response initially when we were needing music we tweaked hymns that were in the public domain but subsequently we've we've decided we'd rather write entirely new lyrics because it's just easier and cleaner music in the church has traditionally reflected theology I mean from the Father's love begotten which is you know theological argument resolved straight through to the praise choruses of the evangelical church now they're presenting theologies and we're presenting a worldview that we think is significantly important steeped in values raising the call to action I mean Scott writes beautiful stuff a lot of it is about that call to action but we also you know he wrote new words to oh holy night and it's powerful because it's accessible if my congregation sings up the Father's love begotten I have to get back into the Arian controversy and explain that if they're gonna want to know anything about it right so otherwise they're just singing words they don't understand and most congregations aren't that theologically or credibly literate anymore so we want I don't want to learn and curve when people come in the door there should be no learning curve they should just get what we want to want them to get right so that's what we do is there sort of a favorite refrain of a favorite old-time him is there something like that an example that you could give okay I'm running through my file now okay here's a come o come Emmanuel okay and this was rewritten for our longest night service okay o calm lights dawning burn within my soul the tender of my heart you can make whole oh come ignite my passion to see the truth of who I am who I can be rejoice rejoice to fear I bid farewell that light may come within my heart to dwell so it's about my own being transfigured by the presence of light which is a symbol for hope and beauty and goodness come lights Beauty come amongst and Cheer our spirits by your radiant presence here oh come ignite our passion to see that we can live in peace and harmony rejoice her choice to anger bid farewell that light may come within our hearts to dwell that sounds yeah that's open to interpretation where I would be comfortable with that as a Catholic exactly and that's the point right so Catholics and Protestants and Muslims and Buddhists and atheists they're all there and people often say okay so how many in your congregation are you know traditional believers I have no idea we don't ask people what their beliefs are I no they're just comfortable I often share the story that a woman shared with me she's a long-term member of the congregation and someone had been sitting beside her who was fairly new to the congregation I've been coming for a few weeks and turned to her and said does she ever talk about God and the member of the congregation turned to her and said that's all she ever talks about but if the woman had been sitting on the other side of the hall with somebody else that person might have turned to her and said oh for heaven sakes no she never talks about God she's an atheist right like people interpret what I'm doing in different ways and that's absolutely perfect for what it is we're trying to do I want to talk about something that's a little bit delicate which is the enemies of your movement your work your vision talk a little bit about the antagonism what you're up against yeah as you know we've just recently concluded three and a half years of disciplinary review which took place within my denomination and felt like a betrayal to me because as I've shared with you I was raised in the United Church and my theological education affirmed what I had been taught in Sunday school while it tore apart what most people who arrived there had learned in Sunday school so I left Theological College with a deeper appreciation of the Christian tradition in which I was born and when that tradition turned on me in 2015 it was deeply disturbing because it felt like this was no longer my denomination in the United States Canada most disciplinary procedures against clergy a result from bad behavior great it's about clergy not respecting the leadership in their congregation or not respecting the presbytery to which they belong and indeed the only ways that a minister can be reviewed in the denomination is for ineffectiveness which means they're doing something in their church which is not conducive to the well-being and health of the congregation or insubordination so when they wanted to review me they had to come up with a new process because I was considered effective and I had never been insubordinate so they came up with a process that was based on ongoing affirmation of my ordination questions and they put that ruling in place for all clergy in the United Church in order to understand why that seems odd you need to understand that the United Church has had a clause called essential agreement throughout its entire history since its inception which has allowed the ordaining bodies within the United Church to determine exactly what theology they wish their ordinance to have so we have very conservative conferences in the church which would have expected me to say that I when I say said I believe in God Father Son and Holy Spirit would expect me to understand that literally and be able to explain what I meant by it or you could have very progressive conferences such as the one I was ordained in or Saskatchewan which is also very progressive which would have if I had come in with a literal explanation of those things would have sent me back to do some more reading so my understandings when I answer those questions were very metaphorical and had been honed in my theological education and that has meant that there's been a diverse pool of beliefs across the United Church and that has been the United Church is strength I believe is its diversity however over the last ten years or so it has been quietly moving further to the right I believe that is predominantly in an attempt to attract the demographic that they feel is not currently represented in the denomination so they made this ruling and then undertook to try me with that ruling so when someone is being reviewed they're going to be reviewed because concerns are raised about them and it was the voices from without that were used to trigger the review despite the fact that our polity only allows those in immediate relationship with the person to raise concern so that was really troubling that my overseeing body would listen to complaints coming in from people who weren't even in the United Church who clearly if they'd had a conversation with any United Church minister would have been completely aghast at what they heard that they would use that to start this process and the process was was a hard one throughout the most difficult part for me and for my congregation was our repeated requests to have conversations which were denied at every level and the fact that all of those who were involved in the process almost every single one of them had never actually been at West Hill and never had a conversation with me about what it is that we do and why we do it so that felt cruel and very non United Church like that was we've been a denomination of dialogue and there was no dialogue taking place so that was difficult so the voices within the United Church who speak out against me are often clergy who know nothing about me subsequent to the review there was a podcast that was posted by one of the theological colleges one of the United Church theological colleges it had a host and two faculty members and those two people had no understanding of who I am of what West Hill is of what my theology is of why I do what I do but they felt comfortable sharing that as theological professors in the denomination and I find that shocking I don't know what it is that people are so afraid of that prevents them from having the conversation but they would much rather interact with the caricature of who I am than with me personally and and so in the last year of the review in 2017 West Hill decided that we would go on the road and any congregation that would invite us and allow us to come there would have a conversation with us so those were not opportunities for me to speak I didn't need any more speaking opportunities but there were opportunities for the congregation to engage so we had gatherings in Victoria in Edmonton in Toronto in Kingston in Montreal in Fredericton and in Shelburne Nova Scotia I think that's all of them and at each of those people were able to hear why we do what we do we spoke to over a thousand people in Montreal one of the powerful stories that came out of the process was we heard at the end of the evening when people had left and we were cleaning up and there were four members of the congregation had come with me a couple that drives the hundred and twenty five kilometers to be at West Hill with us a ninety-eight year old member of the congregation who has been a member of the congregation for many years preceding my being there and a relatively new comer to the congregation and after the event was over the woman who had prepared the refreshments spoke to one of the members of the group and shared with them that a gentleman had come in early on and she used the word vitriol to explain how he his approach to who we were and what we were doing he was incensed by the fact that we were doing this and doing in the United Church and she said that at the end of the evening he made the point of going over and speaking to her and saying that he had completely reversed his position that he thought that what we were doing was extremely important so that's just kind of the kind of thing that happens when you have dialogue with people but if you are barred from having dialogue that is deeply troubling and it continues prior to the decision being made that I was unsuitable the presbytery which is the group that I'm brav had been invited to make a presentation at the meeting at which that decision would be made and and they went to that and I chatted with them before the meeting and then we went into the meeting and then they stood up and said that they agreed with a report that found me unsuitable and that I should be removed from the ministry and I was was stunned these are my colleagues with whom I work the most closely and they had not even shared with me their intentions and they had not had a conversation with me about the report which is filled with misrepresentation Mis quotes fabrication of things that I said which I did not say and is a travesty in my opinion right but they never even had a conversation with me about it so they didn't learn that and subsequent to the settlement being reached in my Bimmer you know recognized and affirmed as a United Church minister I sought to go and see them and have a conversation with them and that was wasn't denied but it I was told that I wasn't welcome so that desire to impugn without any knowledge of what's happening or any reason as to why we're doing what we're doing any knowledge of that reason continues and is deeply disturbing to me the analogy that I like to use is the vegan Club I mean you may be right that meat eating is the best thing and that veganism is stupid but why are you doing that in the context of my vegan Club you know what I mean go and form your own Club which is not a vegan Club your club is a meat-eating Club clearly because you're doing the exact opposite so I'm not trying to attack you here what I'm trying to say is do you see how there's a sort of coherence that a Christian Church would want to maintain what's your response to that my response is your caricature izing me I am NOT trying to do something within my denomination which my denomination has not nurtured and created so to characterize the United Church as a Christian Church that believes that God is a supreme who reigns over heaven and hell and Jesus is our door to heaven that's not who the united church is and never has it been you know I'm kind of trying to stretch my mind and to accommodate you and I love and respect you first and foremost okay and I don't want to burn you at the stake but at the same time I'd like you to try to stretch your mind a little bit into my point of view where I have this long history in the Church of Church councils of popes of saints fighting against heresy I know you see that maybe as a dark thing but for me it's a glorious thing where there's truth and then there's error and when arias for example you mentioned the Arian heresy when arias came as a Catholic ostensible Catholic and contradicted the truth he was confronted he was condemned and he died a miserable death personally I hope the arias makes it to heaven because I don't want anyone to go to hell but at the same time we acknowledge that there is a hell and that we can choose to go to hell and that we can oppose the truth the one true God and the one true religion so I just want you to sort of acknowledge my perspective even though you think it may be outdated or moded or that it may be harsh or that it may be overly dogmatic at least try to acknowledge that that is my perspective and that from that perspective your way of doing things seems like anything goes and that the truth doesn't matter so I just want you to try to acknowledge my perspective and give a little bit the way I'm giving to you in terms of accommodating and listening are you able to do that sure I can I mean I understand people have different perspectives I'm concerned when those perspectives are dangerous and I'm concerned when those perspectives allow us to use religion as a weapon I think religion has brought much beauty and light into the world but I think that the divisive elements and the judgmental elements of religion are very very dangerous and I think religions myopic world view at this point in time in the history of the human population is critically problematic because we can't invest exclusively in an otherworldly real estate well the real estate under our feet and that's going to be under the feet of generations to come is boiling to the point that the cruel realities which people are going to be living are going to be many evil in content rather than anything that we would consider the norm now so I think that religion has the capacity to do more harm than good many people that I meet in Catholic churches that are ostensibly Catholic I don't consider a Catholic I think that they have strayed because they're pro-choice because they're Pro women's ordination because they're Pro gay marriage because sexual you need to understand that I'm not a Bible alone Christian I have a living Magisterium which means my church is apostolic which means that st. Peter was given the keys to bind in Toulouse we're doing exactly what it is that I think is dangerous about religion we have to critique what it is our families give us and if those are not up to the challenges and the realities of the world in which we live then we need to sharpen them or change them or dispose of them and pick up new tools and that's where West Hill is we're at the work of picking up the tool of taking that work of love one another and making it viable and valuable in today's world where love one another is not happening in a significant way predominantly because of the fall in a way of communities of care and I don't think that what happened in the church in the 1950s and 60s when it was growing by leaps and bounds the Protestant church here in Canada I don't think that it was attracting massive numbers because of its theology or because of its oratory or because of its Sunday school curriculums I think that it was growing because people were falling in love with being together that's the phrase I use all the time and that's what leads to improve subjective well-being and if I'm going to try to make the world a better place because I don't believe in an afterlife real estate that's what I want to do I want to invite people and give them the opportunity to fall in love with being together and in that moment find a change in their heart which would be the equivalent of the transformational change that the of Jesus's professed to do in previous generations that's the work I'm about right I'm about this world and I'm about changing hearts yeah um Pope Francis what do you think about him what do you like about him and what don't you like about him just name sort of two pros and two cons if you would please well two pros he's charismatic and he comes from South America right those are two pros the con is the same con and it would be the manner in which he has failed as all Pope's before him he has failed to deal with some of the most significant issues in the Catholic Church right now and that's the sexual abuse of children is appalling and unforgivable I don't know how someone who identifies as the agent of God can continue to neglect that I just I just find that appalling so that's one negative and two negative that's all the negatives I don't think he's neglecting his duty how could you do better than Pope Francis not only in terms of the sex abuse scandal but in terms of navigating the bark of st. Peter the Christian Church what would you do okay okay all right all the property that the Roman Catholic Church owns is turned over to people in need or sold so that that money could be given to pay off the debts of small countries or alleviate poverty or sickness or something like that so liquidate your assets and make them as transformational as possible then I'd just be the Pope s in a basement apartment with you know no hot water or something and be happy right anyway yeah okay just quickly at the end of my interviews I do ask my guest to give a little closing thought something positive what could you say to anyone that might be out there listening now that I think that the most important thing that anyone can do is to engage in dialogue and to approach that dialogue recognizing that the lines that are between us are permeable and conversation the root word of conversation is conversion and we need to be all is open to what the other person has to offer which doesn't mean that we need to renegotiate whole conversations that we've had in the past but it does mean that we need to open our hearts to the other person and and hear what's being said yeah you like it we'll do some questions all you got to do is all you got to do got to do